Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ice Jams? By Dan McGowan

Icicles hanging along the eaves of your house may look beautiful, but they spell trouble. That's because the same conditions that allow icicles to form—snow-covered roofs and freezing weather—also lead to ice dams: Thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves. Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. When that happens, the results aren't pretty: Peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings. Not to mention soggy insulation in the attic, which then loses R-value and becomes a magnet for mold and mildew.

If you live in a cold, snowy region, you already know about the damaging effects of ice dams. The gutters clog up with ice, then water runoff from the roof gets trapped by the dam and eventually backs up the roof, travels under the shingles, and leaks into the house. While a permanent fix for ice dams usually requires increasing the insulation, sealing, and ventilation in the attic, there is a simple way to diminish the damage after the dam has formed. Fill the leg of discarded pair of panty hose with a calcium chloride ice-melter. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. If necessary, use a long-handled garden rake or hoe to push it into position. The calcium chloride will eventually melt through the snow and ice and create a channel for water to flow down into the gutters or off the roof.
When we get a snow storm, make sure you get out after the storm and roof rake the areas that tend to build up.

If the ice jam is too large, the removal of ice buildup on a roof can be completed by trained professionals that use special steam equipment to ensure quick and safe removal without causing damage to the roof.

To keep ahead of water damage, snap photos where you see frosty buildup. Use the pictures to help target an interior inspection, during which you should check for leaks. 

If you’re selling your home, and you have had previous ice jams that have caused problems, don’t forget to write the problems on the Sellers Property Disclosure form. Not reporting the problem on the disclosure form could cause problems for you down the road long after you have sold your home. Your Real Estate agent can go over that with you. Just remember,
 Spring is coming…eventually!

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